Hi! My name is Janet Moreland. I graduated from the University of Missouri on December 14, 2012, magna cum laude, as a non-traditional student at age 56. After seven long years, while working full time with the university and attending school part time, I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Education and am now certified to teach grades 5-9 Social Studies and Science.
I am embarking upon this trek for three important reasons. First, it is believed I will be the first woman to paddle solo the 2600-mile Missouri River from its source at Brower’s Spring, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri River is the longest river in North America and, as part of the Missouri/Mississippi River system, it is the fourth longest river in the world. This is a challenging expedition and I intend to bring my “I-can-do” attitude into my future middle-school classrooms, a place where young adolescents often struggle with their self-esteem and question their abilities. I want all school-age children to know and believe that they can be successful in any endeavor if they have the desire, a positive attitude, and encouragement and support to help them accomplish their goal. The future of our society needs this kind of mind-set in our young people.
Second, I hope to transform my experiences on this journey into teaching and curriculum opportunities, and I would like to write a book about my experiences. The Missouri River is an interdisciplinary treasure chest full of jewels to teach us about our nation’s cultural history, geography, natural environment, and social interactions. It is truly a living laboratory!
Third, I would like to generate a greater awareness of this country’s most precious resource, the Missouri River, and inform communities how they may become engaged stewards of the river. Missouri River Relief, a grass roots non-profit organization, has demonstrated this concept for over ten years.
MRR has hosted 104 Missouri River clean-ups, bringing 17,906 volunteers to clean 718 tons of trash from 863 miles of the river.
The organization emerged organically from a group of people in mid-Missouri who simultaneously recognized the need for engaged stewardship of the Missouri River and the desire of citizens to take part in watershed solutions. They are responsible for numerous Missouri River clean-ups, river festivals, and education events on the river geared toward students, teachers, and communities. Missouri River Relief’s reaches extend from St. Louis, Missouri, all the way up to Yankton, South Dakota. Generating awareness of this valuable hands-on organization is important to my mission.
I believe it is important for students (and communities) to get out on the rivers and help clean up America’s waterways. This promotes a sense of environmental responsibility, encourages respect for the natural world, and provides an occasion to give back to society. Once an individual has taken part in a river clean-up, further learning about our nation’s rivers and their watersheds is enhanced and becomes more meaningful. Ideally, river communities everywhere will begin to develop their own Stream Teams.
As a member of an active river community for the past 16 years in Columbia, Missouri, the Missouri River has grown near and dear to my heart. Naturally, this expedition is extremely important to me. Please join me in this challenging and stimulating learning adventure as I plan and prepare, and while I paddle down the entire length of the Big Muddy beginning in the spring of 2013.
Live fast ~ paddle slow